There is a method to the madness for the opening half of St. Vincent’s set. Like many shows on the Fear the Future tour, Annie Clark, known as St. Vincent, began her sold-out show stage right with her signature guitar in hand playing “Marry Me” from her first album of the same name. The curtain barely open, revealed roughly fifteen percent of the stage. The song ends, the lights go out, the curtain opens a bit wider revealing St. Vincent a tad further upstage, further to her left, and holding a differently colored signature guitar. This pattern repeated for six songs as she worked through the songs chronologically in the order they were written from the albums Marry Me, Actor, and Strange Mercy.
The seventh song of the evening finally found the stage curtains completely open as Ms. Clark laid down center stage singing “Strange Mercy.” As she crooned “And oh little one I ain’t been around for a little while, but when you see me, wait,” the stark grey curtain that served as he backdrop opened to display another curtain with a face with brown eyes, surrounded by lashes that impressionistically looked like a cross between Siouxsie Sioux and a Rorschach test, red lips with vampire teeth, and hair that conjured an image of flames more than anything else. With the song over, Annie stood center stage confidently as she played three songs from the 2014 self titled St. Vincent album, finishing the set with “Birth in Reverse.” Whether the opening set was meant to be symbolic of St. Vincent’s growth as an artist, of her audience’s evolving understanding of St. Vincent and her art, or of something else entirely, can only be answered Annie Clark or left to the imagination of the people in attendance.
For the tenth time of the evening the Hollywood Palladium stage went dark but for much longer than before, and following the intermission, the last curtain opened to reveal a large digital screen with the image of Anne Clark’s face. Slowly the image tightened into a close up as St. Vincent reappeared, her wardrobe changed from pink to silver. She adjusted her earpiece, gripped her orange guitar, and began playing “Hang on Me.” As the large video screen featured videos of St. Vincent doing a variety of strange things with printers and televisions, she played MASSEDUCTION in its entirety, from beginning to end. “Los Angeles” and “New York” seemed to be the favorites of the night, but the melancholy “Smoking Section” seemed perfect bookend to the evening as she sang, “It’s not the end, it’s not the end, it’s not the end…” Ironically, the screen went pink, and large white letters appeared spelling, literally, “The End.” St. Vincent raised her right arm high into the air waving goodbye, thanked the audience, and said goodnight.
Words: Jon Bostick
Photography: Wes Marsala
Written for Grimy Goods, January 26, 2018